The 4-string TENOR banjo started to become popular about 1910 as a melodic picked instrument. It soon became used primarily for strummed chordal accompaniment and as a rhythm-instrument in the popular 1920’s jazz dance-bands. Its volume and timbre suited early music styles and it could both compete with other band instruments and be heard clearly on acoustic recordings of the day. Tenor Jazz banjos are normally tuned CGDA, the same as the mandola or viola.
About that same time, some Irish banjo players started picking out the melodies of jigs, reels and hornpipes on the tenor banjo, decorating the tunes with snappy triplet ornaments. Over the years, the tenor banjo used for Irish music has steadily increased and is today a staple in many Irish bands. Irish tenors are generally tuned the same as the mandolin or violin, GDAE.
OME offers both 11” and 12” Tenors with a 19 fret, 22.125” scale. Our 11” tenors are generally brighter and crisper, with more punch, while our 12” models emphasize bass, depth, and a warmer tone. Both 11” and 12” models are available in open-back and resonator styles. The 11” Omega is our most popular resonator and we also offer Silver Bell and Megavox resonators for our 11” models, and the OME Standard removable resonator for our 12” models. For more information see RESONATORS on our DETAIL web page.
Every OME Tenor banjo can be set up in our shop for either Irish or Jazz tuning. Irish players tend to use both 11” and 12” open-back and resonator models while Jazz players tend to prefer 11” resonator banjos. OME tenor banjos have been used and endorsed for many decades by many of the worlds finest 4-string players.